One of the first tasks of the technician is to determine the type of computer problem that the customer is experiencing.

Remember these three rules at the beginning of your conversation:

To accomplish this, practice active listening skills. Allow the customer to tell the whole story. During the time that the customer is explaining the problem, occasionally interject some small word or phrase, such as “I understand,” “Yes,” “I see,” or “Okay.” This behavior lets the customer know that you are there and that you are listening.

However, a technician should not interrupt the customer to ask a question or make a statement. This is rude, disrespectful, and creates tension. Many times in a conversation, you might find yourself thinking of what to say before the other person finishes talking. When you do this, you are not really listening. Instead, try listening carefully when other people speak, and let them finish their thoughts.

After you have listened to the customer explain the whole problem, clarify what the customer has said. This helps convince the customer that you have heard and understand the situation. A good practice for clarification is to paraphrase the customer’s explanation by beginning with the words, “Let me see if I understand what you have told me.” This is a very effective tool that demonstrates to the customer that you have listened and that you understand.

After you have assured the customer that you understand the problem, you will probably have to ask some follow-up questions. Make sure that these questions are pertinent. Do not ask questions that the customer has already answered while describing the problem. Doing this only irritates the customer and shows that you were not listening.

Follow-up questions should be targeted, closed-ended questions based on the information that you have already gathered. Closed-ended questions should focus on obtaining specific information. The customer should be able to answer a closed-ended question with a simple “yes” or “no” or with a factual response, such as “Windows XP Pro.” Use all the information that you have gathered from the customer to complete a work order.